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Texans Head Coaches: Breaking Down The Candidates

By: BRIEN STRAW - SportsRadio 610
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The Texans must find a replacement for Gary Kubiak – who in seven-plus seasons led the Texans to a 61-64 overall record. By the way, that puts Kubiak’s tenure in rarified air. Detroit’s Jim Schwartz [29-48 in 5 seasons], and the Redskins Mike Shanahan [23-37 in 4 seasons], are now the longest tenured coaches with losing records. Shanahan shouldn’t be more than a month behind Kubiak in the unemployment line. Schwartz is clueless but has too much talent around him to expose the obvious decision, move on. (Sound familiar?)

While there are more than a few obstacles that must be addressed before the Texans can compete for titles, none are more critical than quarterback and head coach (in that order). It’s time for Rick Smith to top the value of the J.J. Watt pick and get this franchise its much needed franchise quarterback. Whether that be Teddy Bridgewater or Johnny Manziel, it just has to be the right guy.

If you get the right quarterback, and the right coach this team can win the AFC South in 2014, and compete for a title no later than 2015. With that in mind, here’s some thoughts on the names most mentioned.

Wade Phillips – current defensive coordinator/interim head coach: [82-59 overall record / 1-5 in playoffs in 9 full seasons and parts of 5 - now 6 others] Reality. Much like Ed Orgeron at USC, it doesn’t matter what you do as interim coach, you’re not getting the job. In both cases, for the same reason. You [Wade/Ed] are not the guys you hire when you want to win a title. Wade’s proved to be an above average NFL head coach. But at 1-5 in the postseason, he’s also shown he’s not the guy to bring you the hardware. Actually, with the need for a major change in culture – and perhaps strategy, it’s unlikely Wade is with the Texans in 2014. Doesn’t mean he won’t be employed.

David Shaw – current head coach Stanford, seven years NFL coaching experience in Oakland and Baltimore: [34-6 overall record / 23-4 in Pac 12 - 3 seasons] This guy is the hottest name going. Everybody thinks he’ll resurrect their team, just as his Cardinal predecessor Jim Harbaugh did for the 49ers. And why not, Stanford continues to win, its going to the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive year, he’s even kept up the success without Andrew Luck. Well, truth be told, the only constant – and biggest key to the success in Palo Alto – with Shaw or Harbaugh coaching is great defense. Stanford has finished first in YPG (yards per game) the last two years in conference. The two previous seasons they finish second in Pac 12 play. The offense – the side of the ball Shaw’s worked and earned his reputation, 9th in the Pac 12 this year, 8th last year. With Andrew Luck, the Cardinal were 2nd in conference in total offense in Shaw’s first year. They were also 2nd in 2010 with Luck at QB and Jim Harbaugh as head coach. Is it just me or are there others that think David Shaw is NOT the next Harbaugh (Jim or John).

Lovie Smith – former head coach Chicago Bears: [81-63 overall record / 3-3 in playoffs, including a Super Bowl appearance and 2 NFC Title games, in 9 seasons] Two things work against Lovie in my book. He led the Bears to one playoff appearance in his final six seasons in Chicago, and he never developed an offense. Never. Smith’s BEST offense finished 15th in total offense in 2006 – the year they advanced to the Super Bowl. In typical Bears’ fashion, they also led the NFL in takeaways that season with 43. (Just saying…) Outside of ’06, the best a Chicago offense finished in total offense was…wait for it…23rd. His average offense was 26th. (That’s offensive alright.)

Ken Whisenhunt – current offensive coordinator in San Diego / previously Arizona Cardinals head coach from 2007 – 2012 [45-51] While I’m certain that Whisenhunt would solve one of the Texans major weaknesses – (how shall we say lack of cojones) the inability to make difficult decisions, I see little other reason to think so highly of the Georgia Tech alum. Yes, Philip Rivers is playing much better this season. But is that Mike McCoy new head coach (who got the job based on his offensive prowess), or Whisenhunt. Here’s what I know about his quarterback mentoring, it doesn’t exist. He made two playoff appearances in Arizona – both with Kurt Warner as his quarterback. Otherwise, he didn’t develop anything. Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Matt Leinart, Kevin Kolb, all failed to develop beyond inadequate NFL quarterback under the direction of Ken Whisenhunt. As I stated above, getting the right quarterback is the Texans biggest need. But I don’t know how you can solve their second biggest issue – getting the right head coach – if said coach can’t develop priority one.

Bill O’Brien – current head coach Penn State [15-9 overall / 10-6 in two seasons] O’Brien deserves a lot of credit for the remarkable job he’s done in Happy Valley. That he kept the Nittany Lions above .500 in the wake of perhaps the worse story/scandal in the history of the sport is noteworthy. From 2007 – 2011 O’Brien served as an offensive assistant in New England. Beyond this garnering him the Penn State job, it means little to me. Bill Belichick, and much more importantly, Tom Brady are the reasons the Patriots have been a dominant pain in the a$$ for more than a decade. That has been proven numerous times (Weiss, Crennell, McDaniel). Is O’Brien – based on the job he’s done at PSU – different from the others in the Belichick coaching tree that have failed? That’s the question you’d better be damn confident is a yes if you’re Rick Smith and Bob McNair and Bills’ your choice.

There are other coaches whose named have surfaced, but don’t have the requested – previous head coaching experience and NFL coaching experience – that Bob McNair said he wanted when he fired Gary Kubiak last Friday. Greg Roman (SF), Mike Zimmer (CIN), Darrell Bevell (SEA), Todd Bowles (AZ), Peter Carmichael (NO).

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